Lion, an Oscar-tipped film directed by Garth Davis tells a story about the journey of a five-year-old illiterate Indian boy, Saroo who got separated from his family when he fell asleep in an empty train that brought him all the way to Calcutta, 1000 miles from his home. Living as a street-child for few months is not an easy life but Saroo managed to survive before he was placed in an orphanage and was later being adopted by an Australian couple, Sue and John Brierly. Therefore, in this report, I will elaborate two human development theories, Durie’s and Bronfenbrenner’s which can be linked with Saroo’s lifespan development. The report will link the theories with the event of Saroo’s life with his foster parents in Tasmania, Australia during his childhood. In addition to that, I will also discuss how these Maori’s and Western theories may have been applied to my future career as a tourism consultant.
Sir Mason Durie developed Te Whare Tapa Wha which illustrates the four dimensions of health and well-being which were presented by the four walls of a house (CareersNZ, 2017). All these walls are important because if a person lost one of them, his life will be unbalanced as the support system is considered to be weak. Each walls symbolise taha hinengaro (mental wellbeing), taha whanau (social or family wellbeing), taha wairua (spiritual wellbeing) and taha tinana (physical wellbeing).
Taha hinengaro which refers to mental or psychological health can be seen in the film when Saroo received the love and attention from his family and girlfriend, Lucy. He was being loved by the people around him and he felt very appreciated which eventually help him becoming a happier and healthier person. Relationship has great influence on one development and so is the feelings. Saroo had been holding grudges for quite some time towards his adopted brother, Mantosh. As he grew older, he became gruffy and according to Durie, this is regarded as unhealthy for a kid development. Taha Whanau can also be seen from the time well spent with Sue, John and Lucy. Whanau is a fundamental aspect in Maori’s society as it contributes to a person’s identity. Whanau provides us with the strength to be who we are (Ministry of Health, 2017). Saroo had the support from his parents from the very beginning where he didn’t know how to speak English up until he managed to further his study in Melbourne. Sue and John spend most of their time being with Saroo. They went for a boat ride, always eating together and even playing crickets together. That precious moment has shaped Saroo to be a better person than he was before. They have helped Saroo in fighting his past and move on together with them.
Eating well, get enough rest and sleep and having a place to live are the greatest gifts to Saroo. Previously, he was malnourished and was so hard to earn a living but now he is very healthy that he is able to do anything that he wants. This is related to taha tinana which refers to physical wellbeing and bodily care. The body will suffer when a person is physically unfit or sick and even when in emotional stress. Saroo is considered to be healthy but with his anger towards Mantosh, it will be badly affected. “Wairua to me means being in touch with the spiritual element” – Huataki Whareaitu (Tane Ora Alliance, 2018). Taha Wairua is a spiritual aspect of wellbeing that can be reflected with one’s relationship with the environment and not just religious belief. Saroo can remember every details of his surrounding in Ganesh Talai which actually helps him in finding his way back home. He even attached himself to the water, the trees and the dirt gravel roads. People without spiritual awareness is considered to be lacking in wellbeing and more prone to ill health (Rangatahu Tu Rangatira, 2016). Thankfully, Saroo has it. Overall, Saroo has a strong foundation of a healthy well-being as all the dimensions supported each other.
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory can also explain the development of Saroo. Bronfenbrenner stressed the importance of studying a child in multiple environments to understand his development (Psychology Notes HQ, 2013). The ecological systems consist of five components which are microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem. Microsystem is the immediate environment the child lives in such as the family, school and neighbourhood. As for Saroo, his whanau is considered to be healthy which led him to be a greater person now. He had a good relationship with his parents and friends even when he was in his homeland, Ganesh Talai. The mesosystem is about the interaction of the microsystem which developing child finds himself in. As for Saroo, the relationship between his parents and Mantosh had influenced how he grew up. Mantosh needed special attentions from Sue and John but how Mantosh treated them really pissed off Saroo. This may have negative impact on his upbringing. At first, he was so scared to see Mantosh’s behaviour of hitting his own head to the wall but by time, he was used to it and did not bother anymore. Instead, he became annoyed with him and also rude towards him. The exosystem is the external environment settings which indirectly affect the child. It includes the other people and places that the child herself may not interact with often herself but that still have a large effect on him (MentalHelp, 2008) but in this film, not much is shown about the exosystem.
As for the macrosystem, it is the larger context of the child’s life. It is the set of overarching beliefs, values, and norms, as reflected in the cultural, religious, and socioeconomic organization of society (Ettekal & Mahoney, 2017). Australia is a peaceful developed country compared to India where there is a high poverty rate. The positive development of Saroo has proven that the healthier the environment of the child, the better his development. Saroo was eating well, having enough rest and sleep and has access to education. In contrast, if he were to live in his hometown, he will still be illiterate, malnourished and probably need to work really hard to earn money for the family. Being separated from his brother, Guduu and his mother, Fatima for a very long time had affected his development. It is the chronosystem which he needed to bear for almost 20 years resulting in him becoming an independent and a secretive man. Knowing that his family is still looking for him is gonna be quite a severe pain in his heart.
Understanding child’s growth and development is an important aspect in every career. In my case, I am going to be working in tourism sector which I will be handling people from all walks of life. Durie’s and Bronfenbenner’s theories have exposed me to bigger perceptions of the people. I will have greater knowledge and exposure about how the culture, religion or the economic influenced my customers. People like it when others understand their circumstances and it actually shows a sign of respect. In choosing the trip for my customers, the theories are actually a big help as I can narrow down the options of food and accommodations if they are religious people. The way to approach the people is going to be different as well as some may prefer in-person discussion and some prefer it online. During the trip, I can also understand the behaviour of a person as I have been exposed to some of the interesting theories. I may able to detect if something wrong is going on among my customers. Is it normal for them to behave the way they did? It will be a big challenge for me to know about everyone but knowing some parts of it is sufficient enough for me to get to know them.
The human development theories are very helpful in helping people understanding more about ourselves and others’ upbringing as well as how people manage to adapt to their surroundings over time. Understanding one’s behaviour is important as it will prevent us from making wild assumptions about them. However, the theories are just theories that act as a guide and standard but it does not necessarily apply to everyone. Above all, children need to be shaped at a young age for it may be difficult once they are grown up and everyone has influences on every child’s development. The microsystem mainly need to give good examples in order to produce a good child which obey Te Whare Tapa Wha model, the dimensions that symbolise a child’s life.